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Re: Marking Up Poetry (Was: Conformance of DL Groups Missing DT or DD)

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 09:12:21 +0000
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20080228091221.GA4679@stripey.com>

I wrote:

> Dr. Olaf Hoffmann writes:
> > [Ian wrote:]
> > 
> > > On Wed, 27 Feb 2008, Dr. Olaf Hoffmann wrote:
> > >
> > > > As detailled in the wiki the examples in the current HTML5 draft
> > > > do not use elements with a sufficient structure and are
> > > > therefore bad or poor examples to markup poetry.
> > >
> > > I don't understand why the examples in the spec are bad.
> > 
> > See:
> > http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/PoeticSemantics
> Again, I'm afraid that I don't follow.  The page states how poems could
> be marked up, and which components a poem has, but I still haven't
> understood _why_ poems need to be marked up at that level of
> granularity, and in a way which user-agents know they are poems -- what
> poetry-specific behaviour would user-agents have if poems were
> explicitly marked up?

Overnight an example has occurred to me ...

> > > > > Poetry is no more important than stories, addresses, legal
> > > > > documents, letters, and any number of other document types,
> > > > > none of which have their own section either.
> > > >
> > > > It is not more important, but it has a richer microstructure.
> > >
> > > I do not buy that at all. Letter have a complex microstructure. So do
> > > dictionaries, so do legal documents, so do addresses, etc... 
> > 
> > Sure, several of them have similar problems, that can be covered
> > sometimes approximately with dl/dt/dd or some other elements and
> > some crutches in HTML4 or XHTML1.x, if the meaning and usage of 
> > such elements is not restricted by the specification.
> But again, what would be done with that structure?  A letter typically
> has the sender's address and phone number, the date sent, the
> recipient's name, the recipient's address, a salutation, possibly a
> heading, some paragraphs of content, a complimentary closing, and the
> sender's name.
> Currently the <p> element is about the best available for marking up
> each of these (with <br>s for line-breaks in addresses).  That seems to
> work.  If new elements were invented for each of the above, browsers
> would still render them as they currently do <p>, and it's unlikely they
> would provide additional functionality for any of them (as suggested for
> <dfn> and <mark>).  So what would be the point?

Currently a poem (or a verse from a poem) and an address in a letter
could both be marked up as a <p> with <br>s for the line-breaks.  In
graphical browsers they'd be displayed similarly, but humans would
generally treat them differently.

In particular they'd likely voice them very differently if reading them

* Poems are often read quite slowly, and the line-breaks are important,
  usually signified by a pause.

* When reading a letter to somebody the details of the address usually
  isn't what is of interest to the listen (they want the content), so it
  would be reasonable to gabble through the address at high speed, not
  pausing at all between lines.  (Of course if somebody specifically
  asked you to read out the address, rather than the whole letter, that
  would be different.)

So there could be a case of marking these up differently so that
speaking browsers can read them differently.

I'm not sure that is a sufficient reason to bloat HTML with
domain-specific mark-up (in particular: as well as letters and poems
what else at that level of granularity would be needed for this to
work?; is there any evidence that speaking browsers would bother to
implement these nuances?; and would enough authors bother to use these
elements, and use them correctly, that it made a difference?), but it is
at least a reason.

Received on Thursday, 28 February 2008 09:12:37 UTC

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